Chapter 1-Out of Time-SampleSunday

This is the first half of Chapter 1 in my time travel novella, Out of Time. Follow the link to take you to the buy links for paperback and ebook.

They had to escape from this period in time. The people they were visiting in the 1600’s definitely thought they were witches, and the spawn of the devil.

Historians warned the school teacher about visiting Salem, Massachusetts, during the Salem Witch Trials, especially with a dozen twelve year olds in her care. The teacher had Doctor John Hawking and Captain Erickson with the class, but, the villagers were chasing after them, and there was no way to get to the shuttle without significantly changing history. All Mrs. Hanson wanted was to show her class, through the Interactive History program, what made these particular Puritans so paranoid, and what happens to people when they were accused of witchcraft. Well, they certainly got more than they bargained for.

Hawking was loudly complaining, “This is utterly stupid. We should have had a military backup when we go to time periods such as these. With all the threats to us from the Puritans, and the Native Americans, neither of which tolerate strangers on their lands. I’m going to file a protest with the President, and insist we get some military assistance.”

“What about interfering with time by bringing advanced weapons, armor, and everything involved with a military operation?” asked Erickson.

“We have the technology to make our weapons appear to be muskets, so why not? We can then have the soldiers wear whatever uniforms from whatever time we’re in, and that will solve that!” insisted Hawking.

“Well, let’s worry about that when we get back.”

After leading the witch hunters through the forest for over an hour, the time travelers managed to finally lose them. The school kids thought this was really cool, while their teacher was frantic. Erickson led them all back to the holographically disguised shuttle, which was disguised to look like a small house. Once they all got back inside, Erickson piloted the shuttle back to the USS Einstein, which was waiting in orbit. On the ship, Mrs. Hanson and her class went to the room that was a temporary classroom, while Hawking and Erickson went to the bridge. On the bridge, Erickson was asked by Yeager, “How did it go, Captain?”

“It didn’t go very well. One of the villagers got it into their head that we were more than just strangers, so we were accused of witchcraft. Mrs. Hanson tried to argue that we weren’t witches, which made them even angrier. So, within minutes we had the whole angry-mob-with-fire-and-pitchforks coming after us. After our little disappearance, we might as well be witches to them. Remind me never to let any historian, or school teachers, convince us to let them travel to Salem of the 1690’s. Now, we can return home to see what other adventures we have in store for us.”

The USS Einstein traveled forward to 2157, so that the sixth graders could do their e-book reports on what happened in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. After Hawking, and the others, returned from the first missions through time, the government decided that there would be a no-interference policy for the past, a sort of Grandfather Paradox Policy. The idea was, through the previous experience, that if anyone interfered in anything significant to the timeline, that when you returned to your period of time, you may not exist because your ancestors may not have survived a certain period in the time you tried to fix. Hawking said this was all theory, and he didn’t know if the person would disappear from history if they returned to the present, but, he didn’t want to find out.

Contaminating the timeline without meaning to could be a real possibility with the Interactive History program the Department of Education had thought up recently. Too many American children knew far too little about their history, so with the use of a time traveling starship, they could learn from first-hand experience. Hawking disagreed with this, but, convinced Congress to pass a Grandfather Paradox Act, making sure nobody would interfere in the natural flow of history. Sure, Hawking was becoming rich and famous because of this, school districts, historians, and others paid him to take them back in time, but he still cared about not contaminating the timeline.

Hawking was also worried about when those rogue time travelers from the beginning of his first trips through time were supposed to interfere with the original missions, but, he had no idea when in the future they were from. Another worry was the fact that the Time Tripper had been built without his knowledge; what other things had he done that the government had gone behind his back to do their own version? He would never know. Now, government contracts were going to the lowest bidder for the next generation of time traveling starship.
These new ships, with Commander Robinsons’ help, could go faster than the speed of light, if they needed to use the suns’ gravity to jump through time, which didn’t happen very often, since they almost always found fluid time access points. Robinson had also experimented with using black holes to travel through time, which wasn’t quite working out the way he thought the experiments would. All the black hole experiment did was make the ship stay stuck in the event horizon, going nowhere, so now Robinson would have to invent a whole new way to get the ship unstuck from a black holes’ event horizon.

Hawking made sure he held the patents to his time device, which required the new stardrives to work; he wanted no one to go behind his back to build another timeship without his knowledge. President Williamson assured the scientist that anything having to do with the secrets of time travel was now solely Hawkings’ responsibility; there were no longer secret government labs, or secret time traveling missions. Doctor Hawking still wanted to know what kind of missions the Time Tripper had been on previous to Hawking taking control of it to go back to Roswell in 1947, but, all Williamson would say was that it was classified higher than the security clearance that Doctor Hawking had been given by the powers that be.

Hawking had been asked by some Smithsonian Institute historians if he could take them to observe moments like the Boston Massacre, the signing of the Constitution, the War of 1812, and the British burning the White House, the various battles of the Civil War, and other significant happenings in American history. They wanted to record everything for posterity, on video, so that the Smithsonian Museum could accurately portray everything instead of guessing on a few moments in history.

He was a bit overwhelmed with all the requests for his time, and the attention he was receiving, so he finally hired a secretary, and an agent, so that he wouldn’t have to deal with everything so directly. How he ended up as the go-to guy for trips through time, he wasn’t sure; all he wanted to do originally was to figure out how to time travel. Since he enjoyed history, it really didn’t bother him all that much to go back in time, to show everyone how history had happened. What bothered him was what would happen if someone messed up the timeline, like he, and the others, did the first time they went through time, would they be able to fix it again? So, he started reflecting on how he went through this whole time travel scheme the first time.

Announcing Shattered Earth, a science fiction novel

Shattered Earth is my fourth novel.

What it’s about:

Advanced humans, called Terrans, leave Earth when its threatened by a massive meteor. The remaining humans on Earth fall back into primitiveness. The advanced humans, and a group of aliens, the Ragnor, involve Earth in an interstellar war. Thousands of years later, the humans of Earth decide to do something about this. Interstellar politics will never be the same again once Earth is done with their revenge.

These Terrans involve themselves throughout human history. Some play as King Arthur and Merlin. Another is a scientist, whose name is Galileo, and he gets into all sorts of trouble for challenging official orthodoxy about the sun, the Earth, and which one is revolving around the other. Then, we have Amelia Earhart, who has a very valid reason for disappearing. When an alien spaceship gets shot down over Roswell in 1947, President Truman orders the creation of Area 51, Project Blue Book and Sign, and has the United States embark on a plan that will culminate 60 years in the future. Nothing will ever be the same again when the United States gets involved in interstellar politics. But, the whole plan backfires when Earth ends up the worse for wear over it. Other species find out what Earth did, since no one else was bold enough to even try, so they want to help bring down the Ragnor once and for all. The new President of the United States imagines a galactic federation or a republic, but, none of the other species wants anything to do with it. Once they destroy the Ragnor’s technology, they leave the Ragnor to ponder why all the other species hated them enough to attack them. Will the galaxy remain at peace?

Currently can be found as an e-book on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, and Kindle.

Second review of Don’t Mess With Earth

Author Cliff Ball draws on his considerable knowledge of history, folklore and Christianity to craft a convincing retelling of humanity’s time on Earth.

Told mostly from the point of view of a newly sworn-in U.S. President, we learn that Earth has existed under the shadow of secrets and lies for thousands of years. As Noah was building his wooden ark to escape the flood, a highly developed race of people called Terrans was designing starships and planning to leave the earth entirely.

The Terrans travel to an Earth-like planet and set up a colony, naming it Terra. They explore their new system and meet many friendly cultures. They also meet the Ragnor, a race obsessed with military conquest. The Ragnor attack Terran ships relentlessly and without cause.

Soon the Terrans return to Earth to see if their human cousins have advanced. They find Egypt at the time of the Pharaohs and decide the earth humans are far too primitive to help Terra fight the Ragnor.

Some Terrans decide to interfere with human development and pose as Earth people. From the times of King Arthur to Genghis Khan, Terrans make their mark on history.

Centuries later, a spy base is set up on Mars. From Mars, the Terrans watch as the Great War explodes in Europe and later as World War Two engulfs the entire planet.

The Ragnor visit Earth in cloaked ships and begin abducting and experimenting on humans. Tales of abduction and UFOs spread around the globe. A Ragnor scout ship crashes in New Mexico in 1947. The Americans develop the Area 51 program at Roswell. The project’s mandate is to use the technology from the downed alien craft to defend the United States against her enemies.

Sixty years later, a secret starship is ready, the crew trained, and the newly elected Present must address the nation and the world. He orders the ship to attack Earth’s alien foe. Is one advanced ship enough to match the combined fleets of both Terra and Ragnor? Is America on the brink of its greatest military victory since D-Day? Or is it doomed to fail like no other combat mission in history?

Ball has written an intriguing new take on history. He keeps the pages turning, explaining historical events in his own unique style. The story builds to an explosive climax that won’t leave you disappointed.

I recommend Don’t Mess With Earth to Sci-Fi and alternative history fans.

Reviewed by WR Potter for Reader’s Choice Reviews.

My new novel now available

My second novel, “Don’t Mess With Earth” is now available for purchase. Can be found here: Amazon or here: Barnes and Noble. Here is a quick summary:

Advanced humans, calling themselves Terrans, leave a highly corrupt and mostly primitive Earth to search out a new planet to inhabit. Once on a new planet, they begin exploring the rest of the galaxy and begin watching over their more primitive human cousins back on Earth. Some Terrans are well known in human history, people such as King Arthur, Galileo, Genghis Khan, and Amelia Earhart. The Terrans come across an alien species, called the Ragnor, that experiment on other species for no reason other than that they can. The Ragnor discover Earth by accident and start their abductions and experiments on the first set of humans they come across, the colonists on Roanoke Island. The Ragnor continue to cause mayhem and mischief on Earth, eventually getting shot down over Roswell, New Mexico. Once the humans on Earth figure out they’re being manipulated by both sides, President Truman has the United States embark on a plan to pay back both the Terrans and the Ragnor with the technology created by Area 51. Once the plan is initiated, will Earth succeed in its payback or fail gloriously?

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My thoughts on Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (spoilers)

Since I’m writing science fiction, with a little bit of the whole Roswell conspiracy angle thrown in, I thought I would take the time to post what I thought of how George Lucas and Steven Spielberg approached it in the movie. If you haven’t seen the movie, then this contains some spoilers.

I saw it last week and I was looking forward to it, since I thought the “Last Crusade” was a pretty good movie. Too bad “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” came 10 years too late. If they had made this movie before everyone started being crazy over conspiracy theories and Roswell in particular, this movie would have been much more original. Overall, the story was entertaining, but, I must say I’ve seen the same story in variations on TV and in other movies. Stargate SG-1, for example, covered the Crystal Skull angle a little over 4 years ago, along with the Roswell thing with the Asgard and a rogue Asgard scientist who conducted the experiments on humans. Not only that, the only difference between the Stargate movie and this Indiana Jones movie was the fact that it was in Peru and not Egypt, and those aliens influenced Peruvian culture and not the Egyptians.

The City of Gold angle was recently covered in “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets” and I think they did a much better job of storytelling. Although, I thought putting a whole city of gold inside Mount Rushmore was a big stretch. Next thing you know, in the 3rd movie, Solomon’s treasure is hidden underneath the Alamo! If they continue the Indiana Jones franchise with the son, then replace Shia LeBouf with someone else who can at least pretend to know how to act.

Anyway, as someone who wants to write science fiction and write a litte about Roswell myself, it just shows me there’s not really much that is new under the sun, and I think Spielburg and Lucas just wanted to cash in on the story with their own movie. Kind of reminds me of Star Wars 1-3, Lucas just wanted more money, and ripped out a really lame backstory to Darth Vader. He should of just let it alone.

Just my .02 cents, take it for what its worth.

Why I wrote Out of Time: a Time Travel Novel

So, you’re probably wondering how I came up with the story of Out of Time, at least that’s what I’m hoping you’re thinking ha ha.

I started out with thinking the whole US government-alien UFO landing conspiracy theories would make a good story. Then, I saw the movie Titanic in 1997 and thought it would be cool if I could include it, so it turned into a time travel story.  My villain, at first, was a guy who turned traitor and sold technology secrets to a terrorist organization. I had him hijack the timeship, but he thought he was going to 1941 to help Japan attack Pearl Harbor, instead he ends up in Roswell 1947. I didn’t think this character worked too well as the main antagonist, so I created a bigger bad guy, who pulled the strings from 50 years further in the future.

This antagonist ends up going back in time himself and impersonates J. Edgar Hoover. I have Hoover stay in control of the FBI because he knows where all the bodies are buried and what skeletons all the politicians have in their closets since he is from the future. He uses his knowledge to try and stop the time travelers, by sending teams of his own to where Hawking and the others are supposed to be. Eventually, it’s discovered that this Hoover had a hand in trying to assassinate JFK. At the end, you find out just why Hoover is determined to stop Hawking.

Other chapters deal with Anne Frank and the time travelers attempt to keep her from dying in the Concentration Camp she ends up in. I have my time travelers visit JFK because I was into the whole conspiracy about there being more than one shooter in Dallas that November day. I still think there is more to the whole assassination of the President than the government will ever let us know, but then again, maybe it was Oswald by himself who did it.

I have my time travelers even attempt to fix Apollo 13 and the Challenger shuttle. The only problem is, that when they return to their present, they discover changes they never imagined. I have them debate about whether they should fix the mistakes or just leave it alone. The message here being, should time travel ever be attempted and what about the grandfather paradox?

I’m really into American history, so that’s why I chose certain times in US history to start with. One of these days, when I’m a much better novelist, I will add more chapters or just add more to the chapters that are in the novella already, because I think it needs more meat to the story. Of course, I could just write a bunch of sequels, I don’t know yet. I just know that my next novel won’t take me ten plus years to finish, because I just nitpicked this one to death, and decided to publish it because I was just tired of looking at it and messing with it.  From the various people who have read it so far, who knew how I wrote in high school, have been pleasently surprised by how well the story flows and how interesting it is. Hopefully, that translates into a lot of people wanting to buy a copy.

I’m currently working on another novel that I once submitted to the Writer’s of the Future contest as a short story. Stay tuned for that, once I have it completely written, I will post what that novel is about.

Why I write

I just thought I’d take the opportunity to post why/when I  started writing.

I started around 10 years old. I found that I enjoyed writing short stories, you know, the stories you have to write for English class in elementary school. I even wrote sarastic little surveys for people to fill out. Here’s an example:

Where were you born? A) Pluto B) Romulus C) Tatooine D) I’m not born yet E) other

Favorite movie? A) Back to the Past B) Wars Trek: The Wrath of Max Headroom C) False Grit D) other

I’m sure you get the idea. Being nearly 20 years since I actually made up a survey, my imagination for making up that isn’t what it used to be. I’m sure I have copies somewhere in all the Rubbermaid boxes I have, since I usually keep all my writing.

I also found I enjoyed being a proofreader and editor, especially when the teacher had everyone pass around their essays and have others edit it, I enjoyed taking a red pen to someones’ essay and correcting their errors. I know it sounds mean, but I’m a major nitpicker, its what I do. ha ha. This whole phenomenon in cyberspace for shorthanding everything drives me nuts, I had to figure out what “idk” meant. I really want to put it all in a Word document and spell everything out.

In high school, I took mass communications, Science Fiction, and Creative Writing classes, which ended up being the same teacher, Mr. Saggio at Mountain View High School in Mesa, AZ. He was an interesting teacher to say the least. Mass Comm showed me how all these corporations try to mass market to the masses, I’ve learned over the years that I don’t generally fall for the crap they advertise, I guess I’m a bit of cynic with everything. Science Fiction class is learning about various sci-fi books, in this case, books written by Aldoux Huxley, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and sometimes more radical SF genres. When it came to creative writing, Saggio had us write for contests in magazines like Reader’s Digest. Well, one I wrote, called “Role Reversal” won 3rd in the nation for a magazine published by the Methodist church, called Youth!  I had never heard of it, and when I try to google it now, I can’t seem to find it. Anyway, the story was about what if a white racist teen ended up in a parallel world where he was in the minority, does he learn that racism hurts? You bet he does. Anyway, I received $35 for it, which my mom used to buy a picture frame to frame the check stubb along with my senior picture and an article about it she managed to get in the Mesa Tribune. 

I even wrote, or attempted to write at least two novels in high school. One was about world war 3, or at least my attempt to make it a war novel. I used actors as the main characters, people like Alyssa Milano or Kirk Cameron(they were popular at the time). I ran out of ideas 150 pages into it and I wasn’t even remotely done, and this was on a typewriter. I usually hand-write everything, not this one. I even attempted to re-write it a few years later, but it was so bad, I gave up. Another one, was purely science fiction. I used everyone I knew in high school, but I made the mistake of letting those people read it, they all had different ideas on how to make it “better.” There is definitely no structure to it, you can’t tell who is speaking, and it mostly rambles, so as with the other one, I gave up trying to fix it.

For a time, when I lived in Amarillo, I went to Amarillo College. I signed up for their Creative Writing class thinking it was the same kind of class from high school. I was wrong. All that class did was analyze short stories and poetry, which I ended up dropping because I want to get into print. I even submitted a short story to the Star Trek New Worlds contest, it was about Voyager. After re-reading it years later, it was really sub-par. I even tried that L Ron Hubbard Writer’s of the Future contest, playing on their idea that aliens came to Earth and messed with our history, or whatever it is they believe. Well, that was rejected.  However, I’m turning it into a novel, and this time the aliens are humans who left Earth around the time of Noah’s Flood and come back every thousand years or so to see if we’re advanced enough to help them fight little brown aliens, who just happen to crash land at Roswell….

I will post my saga of writing, editing, and self- publishing Out of Time at a later date.